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The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Have you ever been kidnapped or brainwashed? Maybe. Have you ever been kidnapped, brainwashed, and woken up in an unknown domain? Highly unlikely. But a sixteen-year-old boy named Thomas has.

He awoke in a strange box, wondering where in the world he was. The only thing he could remember--his name, Thomas. When the box stopped moving, a rope was repelled down to him. Thomas climbed out and would never forget his warm welcome: “ ‘Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.’ ”

* * * *

The Maze Runner follows the protagonist, Thomas, as he gets comfortable in his new “home,” the Glade. He learns from the many boys already there that they were sent to the Glade by the Creators (the ones responsible for constructing their environment). Surrounding the Gladers’ sanctuary is the treacherous Maze, a seemingly unsolvable puzzle. Its door close every night, trapping anyone inside. Those who get stuck face a gruesome fate--the Grievers. If you’re lucky, the Grievers will kill you on sight. The unfortunate ones will only get stung, but have to face a painful remembrance process, known as the Changing.

Thomas discovers that the veteran Gladers have been there for two years already, but still have yet to solve the Maze. That suddenly changes when the first female Glader, Teresa, arrives. Thomas and Teresa realize that they are connected, which changes the Maze game forever.

When I skimmed the little synopsis on the back of the book, I thought, Hey, this looks like The Hunger Games (great book!). Thomas is thrown into the Glade/Maze against will by the Creators, and must escape before he is killed by the Grievers (just like Katniss is thrown into the Hunger Games arena by the Capitol, and must be the last tribute standing). I read the first page, and I was disappointed. The Maze Runner is told in third-person. Great. How was I supposed to get a court-side view of Thomas’s thoughts and emotion like I could with Katniss? (You know, I might get stuck in this dilemma one day, and knowing how to react to it might help.)

But I can see why Dashner probably chose this format. He intentions are clearly more focused on giving readers a good story, and not a guide on how to handle similar situations. There are many significant characters introduced throughout the plot. With a first-person perspective, a reader’s view of one character may be hindered due to the narrator’s bias towards how they want portray said character in their mind. So Dashner took the route that would provide an unbiased view towards all characters. Readers would only know the facts regarding their personalities, without any personal opinions to mask them.

Another thing that “pushed my buttons” was the plot development. The 160 pages of the book are devoted to Thomas getting settled into the Glade. The setting is a fictional environment, so it will require more detailed description (because anything could happen, and we want a clear picture of it). But a lot of readers (including me) these days don’t have the attention span or desire to sit through almost half a book’s worth of introductions. They just want the action and suspense to entertain them, which in most people’s minds, is what they sign up for when deciding to read a book.

The one part of The Maze Runner I will praise is Dashner’s ability to quickly change from boring rising action to heart-racing denouement. As soon as I reached the plot’s climax, I knew I had to keep reading. I just had to know the fate of Thomas, Teresa, and the other Gladers. Would they be slaughtered by the Grievers before they had a chance to escape? Would they manage to escape and confront the Creators head-on? Or would something completely different happen?

But this is what you can expect from the first book of a series. It is the first book, so it serves as an introduction to following episodes. Only once we reach the conclusion of Book One and the other novels, will we experience the nitty-gritty of the main plot. Overall, I’d say Dashner’s beginning to a new story is a good one. It will surely get you pumped for the second entry in The Maze Runner trilogy, The Scorch Trials.

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own!

mmahaney24 said...
Jan. 9 at 3:06 pm:
**To all future readers of this review** There is a typo where is says "...the 160 pages..." :O It's supposed to be ..."the first 160 pages...", that way you're not confused on the book length (it's really 374 pages)! :)
mmahaney24 replied...
Jan. 9 at 3:08 pm :
Whoops, I meant "it says".  I can't type today!  Haha :P
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SaherK said...
Jan. 3 at 2:22 pm:
This book sounds really good!
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